A Thousand Pieces of You: Firebird, Book 1

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
A Thousand Pieces of You: Firebird, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Time-bending thriller has more romance than mystery.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about theoretical physics, oceanography, and other scientific terminology, as well as historical information about people clearly based on the last Tsar of Russia, and occasional trivia about various artists, scientists, and literary figures the protagonist Marguerite and her family of geniuses admire.

Positive Messages

A Thousand Pieces of You explores philosophical questions about identity, the paradoxes of time travel, and the way love can transcend time and space. The story will make readers ponder the idea of fate and whether a romance is "meant to be" while also stressing the importance of artistic, not just scientific, thought.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marguerite's a smart, capable young woman who doesn't allow her grief to overcome her mission to seek justice for her father's murder -- but she's also whiny and insecure at times. Paul's a genius who's also brave, handsome, kind, and protective of Marguerite without being patronizing; he's basically perfect. Theo's also a genius, but he's arrogant and lacks self-control. 


Marguerite's in danger in every parallel universe. The violence includes physical fights, weapons-based skirmishes, and a couple of deaths.


A chapter's devoted to Marguerite and another character exploring their feelings for each other, leading to a night of lovemaking and emotional declarations. Marguerite references this first time in a few other scenes. 


Occasional use of "s--t," "a--hole," "prick," "dick," "bitch," "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults and college students drink wine and cocktails at dinner parties and in clubs. An older teen drinks wine in an age when it's acceptable for her to do so. A young man (early 20s) injects himself with a mysterious drug.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Thousand Pieces of You is the first in a planned sci-fi series about a form of time traveling in parallel universes. Although there's a central mystery, the novel is mostly propelled by the main character's romantic feelings (there's a convoluted love triangle, and a lengthy passage describing the main character's first -- and second -- time). There's occasional strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k," "a--hole"), and there are several violent interactions -- physical fights and weapons-based skirmishes -- and a couple of notable deaths that deeply affect the protagonist. With its inventive storyline, multiple settings, and romantic overtones, A Thousand Pieces of You should appeal to teens who are fans of speculative fiction love stories.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written bySoThere April 13, 2017

Thrilling and emotional.

This book was absolutely amazing! It has the cliche YA love triangle but it didn't make it seem cheesy and made it interesting with the incorporation of fa... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byMJ33 February 7, 2021
A Thousand Pieces of You is an exciting, romantic mystery that takes you through several different dimensions of reality. The entire concept behind the story wa... Continue reading

What's the story?

Marguerite Caine is the daughter of genius scientists who developed a life-changing invention: the Firebird, which allows people to jump to parallel universes. After Marguerite's beloved father is killed, all clues point to his well-liked young research assistant Paul as the murderer. In hopes of bringing Paul to justice, Marguerite joins Theo (her parents' other graduate assistant) in using the Firebird technology to look for the missing Paul in other universes, such as futuristic London, Imperial Russia, an underwater city, and more. But as Marguerite jumps from universe to universe, the more she gets to know Paul and the less she believes he had something to do with her father's death.

Is it any good?

There's a lot to take in when reading this convoluted yet intriguing tale. There are the multiple universes to keep straight, along with flashbacks, corporate intrigue, and scientific explanations that are clearly fiction but reference schools of thought in physics and philosophy. Despite all of these elements, the mysteries in the plot are ultimately secondary to the primary concern of who Marguerite should love: the socially awkward but gorgeous and brilliant Paul or the charismatic but impetuous and intelligent Theo (never have two physics PhDs been described as so physically attractive; they might as well have been Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans). 

Insecure about her place as an artist in a family of hard scientists, Marguerite can't see herself as others, particularly the two handsome geniuses, do. It's too bad Marguerite's so full of doubt and needs the guys to validate her, because her original mission to expose her father's murderer is brave and daring. Author Claudia Gray handles the setting changes well, but the book lingers in the Tsarist Russia universe the longest, making some of the other settings seem less important by comparison. The book explores thought-provoking questions about fate, love, and consciousness, but some readers may gloss over all of that to focus, like Marguerite herself, on which boy (and which universe's version of that boy) is her meant-to-be.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of time-bending stories. How does this one compare with more traditional time travel love stories?

  • How is sex depicted in the book? Under the circumstances, is it believable that  that Marguerite would still be so open to romance? 

  • Do you find Marguerite sympathetic, if not always likeable? Do you think her personality makes sense given her situation? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate